Red Panda Network initiates conservation efforts

PHIDIM: Red Panda Network is all set to mobilise the cash received as international award for the conservation of the rare animal in the eastern districts, including Ilam, Panchthar and Taplejung.

It was possible for the network to launch red panda conservation campaign after adding up some amount from other sources with the cash received as award.

European Outdoor Conservation Association had awarded Red Panda Network Rs 3 millions in cash based on online voting a few months ago. They are aiming to collect Rs 5.1 million, including the cash prize, which they are planning to invest in conservation of the endangered animal in Ilam, Panchthar and Taplejung.

Various medicinal herbs producing and conserving companies in upper Mabu, Jamuna, Jogmai and Pyang VDCs of Ilam have been contributing to the conservation of the animal as well.

Sonam Tashi Lama, Conservation Coordinator of the network, said that as much as 3,770 hectare in four VDCs of Ilam had been allocated for conservation of the rare species, raising the purchasing power of locals and conducting awareness raising campaigns among locals so that they could contribute significantly to conservation efforts.

Deep Jyoti Youth Club, Sidin, in Panchthar and Himali Conservation Programme in Taplejung have established coordination with the network for conservation of pandas. “If locals take part in the campaign actively, the project will gain momentum, otherwise it will be in vain,” said Lama.

Habitat reforms for pandas, control of open grazing, conservation of community forests as conservation area, establishment of nursery and tree plantation among other activities are some of the strategies formulated to conserve the rare species in the region. The network will also support to uplift the socio-economic status of locals with activities such as training in organic farming, seeds distribution, construction of poly-house, training for development of home stay and training in various handicraft production.

A tourism package and a directive will be implemented for tourism development of the area. It has been estimated that there are around 1,000 red pandas in Nepal. Of the total, around 25 per cent are said to have been found in Ilam, Panchthar and Taplejung districts. There might be around 2,500 pandas across the globe.

Stakeholders in Ilam have pointed out that the open border, open grazing and uncontrolled development have posed a serious threat to the endangered species.

Jeet Bahadur Nepali, Kalikhop Community Forest chairman, said open border was the greatest challenge. Ilam Support Council Programme Coordinator Ram Rimal said that the red panda’s habitat was at high risk due to encroachment.